Friday 28 July 2023

Astra Militarum Combined regiment Review

The new guard index comes with just one detachment, the Combine Regiment. This comes with the detachment rule, Born Soldiers, four enhancements and six stratagems. 

Born Soldiers is a continuation of the old rules for guard. If any unit stays still then their ranged weapons gain the Lethal Hits ability. While this is useful, it does rely on you staying still, which in a game based around movement, is not what you really want to be doing. Certain units, such as artillery and tanks may benefit from this more than other units, such as infantry, who will most likely be moving up to objectives. This does make artillery even more deadly but overall, this is not was useful as it could or should be. Also trying to remember which units have moved and which haven’t to get the bonus is going to be annoying. 

There are four Enhancements in this index. All of them can only be used for officer models.

The Death Mask of Ollanius reduced OC for battle shocked units by one rather than reducing it to zero. This means that you will only really look to run this on a platoon/cadian commander in a unit of guardsmen, of any of the four varieties, as this will only half the OC value. On other units it will still reduce the OC to zero and be useless. 

Drill Commander grants the units critical hits on a 5+, on ranged attacks, if they stand still. This basically means that the Born Soldiers rule will trigger on a 5+ rather than a 6+. Again, you’ll probably be using this on an infantry but you might drop it in a unit a Kasrkin. Either way this is probably the weakest enhancement, as the units you’d want it to effect cant be and the units it can effect are unlikely to be just sitting around waiting to shoot something.

Kurov’s Aquila can be a very good enhancement or a very bad one, you’ll not really know until you get in to the game. Against some armies, this could be very powerful, pushing up the cost of a key stratagem, which in a game of very limited CP, can be vital. There maybe times, when this enhancement maybe useless, when there are few options to use it on. Most of the time you’ll end up using this to dissuade your opponent from using a stratagem. 

Lastly we have Grand Strategist. Again you’ll likely place this on a platoon/cadian command squad or Castellan to enable them to issue a second order. This is the enhancement that i think will get used the most to push up the number of orders that can be issued. This is also one that is useful for the Scions commander. If you equipped him with a command rod and this enhancement, then the unit he is with can benefit from both orders, making a potent squad. 

There are also six Stratagems, one that can be used any time, three for your turn and two for you opponents turn. 

Reinforcement can be issued any phase but only when a regiment unit is destroyed. Even though it is 2CP, this one will get played quite often and people will look to keep 2CP back for its use. Being able to return a destroyed unit to the board is very useful, especially some of the high power units such as rough riders, sentinels and Kasrkin. I can see this stratagem being used pretty much every game, maybe even multiply times a game, if CP allow it. 

Suppression Fire, alongside all the stratagems used in your turn, is used in the shooting phase and causes any unit, except monsters and vehicles, that you hit with an infantry unit to suffer a -1 to hit until the end of your opponents turn. This is useful but even for 1CP there are better stratagems and uses for that CP.

Fields of Fire is a rewording of an old stratagem but the effect is still similar. This stratagem is played on a unit before it shoots and one enemy unit that it hits now has all further hits increased by 1AP. I can see this being useful to get some extra AP on shots, even masses lasguns. It’s pricey at 2CP but could be very useful. I see this being played on a smaller unit, just to get a hit or two in on the target unit, with not expectation it will actually do damage, all your after are those hits. You’ll then hit the unit with the main bulk of your shots from a different unit. Even a unit of marines getting hit by a blob squad of 25 plus guardsmen with lasguns at -1AP are going to take some damage. 

The last of the staratagems for your turn is Expert Bombardiers. This cost 1CP and needs a unit with a vox caster to be able to see an enemy unit. When your artillery fires at that unit with an indirect weapon they gain +1 to the hit roll, effectively cancelling out the penalty for firing indirectly. However, it doesn’t say that your have to be firing indirectly, just using an indirect fire weapon, so you could be firing at a unit you can see and still get the +1 to hit. Most of the time i guess you will be firming indirectly to maintain your BS skill. Combine this with an order for +1BS, the sentinels Daring Recon and you can have a mobile 2+BS artillery piece, re-rolling 1’s! It will take a lot to pull that off but there won’t be much that could ignore that.  

Armoured Might is used in your opponents shooting phase and is the classic -1 damage stratagem. For 2CP it is pricey and I don’t see it being used much. Against D2 weapons it will be very useful but most anti-vehicle weapons these days are d6 damage weapons and that -1 damage wont do masses. That being said it might just keep your vehicle alive another turn if you play it on a full health unit. Use this stratagem wisely and it could reward you but in general it’s not the best use of CP. 

The last stratagem is Inspired command and allows you to play an order on a unit in your opponents command phase. Now, there are very limited reasons you might play this one but they could be very useful when you do. The only orders that spring to mind are Fix bayonets, take cover or Duty and Honour. Move, move, move! is useless as your not going to be moving anywhere, Take Aim! Is similarly useless as you’re going to be over watching and that’s not affected by BS skill. FRF,SRF! Could be useful for firing overwatch but chances are if your unit is in a position to fire, you played it in your command phase. The other three orders are far more likely. Take cover! is going to be useful for keeping a unit alive during the shooting or fight phases and will be played on a unit that you put out in the open to get shots and now need to protect. Fix Bayonets! will be used for a similar reason, you’ve put a unit in the open to shoot and now they need to survive a charge. However, guard are not good at melee to chances are you’ll still go for Take Cover!, unless the enemy are loaded up with high AP weapons. The most likely candidate for this stratagem will be Duty and Honour! to deny your opponent control of an objective and thus victory points. Playing Duty and Honour! boosts your OC up by 1, and this might be enough to just keep hold of an objective and Danny your opponent. Your unlikely to use this much in your turn as you’ll want to maximise your firepower to kill the enemy but it works very well when you don’t have that option.  At 1CP this stratagem is not going to break the bank every time you need to use it and i can see it being used quite a bit. 

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Astra Militarum army rules review

This is the first in a series of posts about the new guard codex. I had considered several ways to write these articles, from comparing each characteristic with the old edition, to just starting fresh and taking each datasheet as is. In the end I decided to just write my thoughts on each datasheet with only a few references to the old edition. These will be my initial thoughts, on both their usefulness in the new edition, plus any strengths or weaknesses I think they might have. I don't have a deep and vast knowledge of the new edition, in fact I have played no games at this point, so I might be wildly out on my assessments.

To kick everything off I’m going to look at the guards army rule and also the core stratagems. The army rule will be unchanged as we get new detachments, which i will review as and when we get them. The core stratagems i will be looking at through a purely guard perspective and how good or bad they are in that respect. 

The core army rule for the guard is called Voice of Command and is the orders system, with a few tweaks, that we have had for a little while now. It has been massively simplified from previous editions, especially the last edition, and while this is good, i think it has taken a lot of the flavour out of the system. There are 6 orders that can affect any Astra Militarum unit, provided that the ordering officer can order those units. In general these order will affect Regiment or Squadron units and some are better than others for those units.

Move! Move! Move! is the first order and adds 3 inches to the move characteristic of the unit. This can be useful for getting units around the board or getting those extra couple of inches on to an objective and doesn’t require you to give up shooting anymore. Most of the time though your not going to be using this one of either type of unit (regiment or Squadron) as the other orders are generally better but it does have its uses and will most likely be used towards the end of the game as units become more sparse and spread out. 

Fix Bayonets! is almost useless on squadron units. Increasing the WS of a vehicle is not going to do much to their fighting ability. On a Regiment unit it is also not going to do much but could be useful when going against other not combat armies, such as other guard, Tau or certain GSC and eldar units. In reality, if your close enough to charge, your still going to want to use a different order and shoot, there are going to be very few times when charging a unit is going to be better than shooting it. This is most likely going to be used for defensive purposes, rather than offensive when you know theres a charge coming but, for what ever reason, cant do anything about it. 

Take Aim! is one of the better options mentioned above. Adding +1 BS to a unit is very useful and will be one of the go to orders, alongside the next order. Anything that increases the base BS of a unit is better than a simple +1 to hit, as it does not limit the unit to the +/-1 to hit modifiers. This means that it stacks with the Heavy keyword to further increase firepower output. It’s is going to be a toss up between this order and the next as to which to use most turns and will depend a lot on the situation you find yourself in and what you’re shooting.

Front Rank, Fire! Second Rank, Fire! has been around for a long time, in one form or another but always along a similar line. This time it increases Rapid Fire weapons attacks by 1, meaning most will have 2 base and 3 in rapid fire range. This is going to be one of the other go to orders alongside Take Aim! Which one you choose to use will depend on the circumstances but i generally think that volume is better than accuracy. 

Take Cover! is also a good order but is, in general, not as useful as the two above. This order also benefits form adding  characteristic of a unit, in this case the save characteristic, rather than just the role, so it can stack with things like cover and cannot be ignored by Ignores Cover weapons. If you have a unit at the back that you want to keep alive or maybe a unit on an objective, then this could be a good order, but in general your really going to want to boost the fire power output of the unit rather than the save. It’s going to have its uses but it’s only going to get used occasionally.

Duty and Honour! is the last order and is probably going to be one of the least used. Again why would you want to boost the OC value of a unit to hold an objective when you are really just going to want to try and kill the enemy unit on the objective you’re trying to take. This will have its uses and for some units where you can place two orders on them, it might be useful but boosting the shots and BS skill would be a better combination. A useful but niche stratagem that will have its uses but only very rarely.

Next up are the ten Core Stratagems and as i mentioned above, i will only be looking at these through a guard perspective, so some stratagem that are very useful to some armies may well be almost useless to the guard. 

Command re-roll is the basic re-roll ability we all know and love. There is not much to say, other than it will get used often and we’ll all want to use it more than we can. 

Counter Offensive is a good stratagem for other armies, for the guard it is next to useless. For some units, such as bullgryn it might be useful but for most units it’s only ever going to get used as a last resort and at 2CP very rarely at that. On a big blob squad it could be useful to use before they get wiped out but even then i think i would rather save the CP for something more useful.

Epic Challenge is another combat stratagem that is almost useless to the guard. Most of our characters are not good in combat and so even spending 1CP on this seems like a waste of time in the vast majority of cases. There maybe the very occasional use for it but they will be very occasional. 

Insane Bravery on the other hand is one that may well get used a lot to keep a unit in the fight and holding an objective. Guard have a lot of ways to deal with battle shock but it is probably going to be worth keeping 1CP around for this late in the game as scoring those objectives could be crucial. 

The Grenade stratagem is a reasonable way of inflicting mortal wound on your enemy. The grenades keyword is actually quite common in the guard, more common that I thought it would be. For 1CP this could be useful for putting a few extra wounds on a unit or taking the last few of one.

Tank Shock is one that I first thought was a bad stratagem for guard but now I think it’s not too bad. With our tanks being fairly strong, the number of dice being rolled is going to be reasonable and usually higher than the enemy toughness, meaning that extra dice as well. While this wont kill many enemy, were not going to be charging in tanks on a regular basis and if we are its going to be a bit of a last ditch effort to keep them alive and firing, meaning that any extra damage output we can get is going to be good. We’re usually going to be charging the remnants of units, so we may only need a couple of mortal wounds to go through to help finish off the unit. So, while we’re not going to be using this stratagem very many times, it could be really useful on the few times we do use it. 

Fire Overwatch has changed from the last several edition and for the better. The base stratagem needs 6’s to hit, however we have a few ways and units that can increase this number to 5’s or even 4’s, meaning that we could do a lot of damage. This stratagem will get used quite a bit i think, as any extra shooting we can get is always going to be useful. In many respects i would spend my 1CP a turn on this rather than the re-roll.

Rapid Ingress is one that could be very useful or completely useless. If you’re running a standard army there are very units that can really make use of this, if you’re running a scion army then you could use this quite a bit to drop in a unit somewhere annoying for you opponent. It is a bit like the Valkyrie ability but not limited to where the Valkyrie is. On the whole you will only use this once in a while as I don’t think the opportunity to maximise its use will come up very often, as scions are not terminators and cannot withstand the same sort of punishment, so placement is going to be very important.

Smokescreen only works on units with the smoke keyword, which is basically vehicles. This is going to be useful in keeping your vehicles alive by reducing the hit rolls and increasing save rolls. Combine this with things like armoured might and you could make a very durable vehicle for a turn. I think this will be useful when used but you’ll have to think very carefully about if and when you choose to use it. 

Go to Ground is similar to the guard order Take Cover! but this affects the role not the characteristic so they can stack. This would be useful in a pinch to try and keep some guys alive upping the save or giving them an invulnerable save but overall, guard infantry are basically disposable and there are other things that this CP could be spent on that i think would be a better investment. So keep it in mind for those occasions that you really need to try and keep a some models in a unit alive but on the whole spend the CP elsewhere.

Heroic Intervention is a 2CP stratagem and not much else need be said. There are very very few occasions when you are going to want to charge in a guard character out of turn. There are very few occasions when your going to want to do in it turn! Guard are not made for combat. You can ignore this stratagem.

So overall there are not many stratagem that the guard cant use in one for or another. There a certainly some that will receive more attention that others, namely the three combat stratagems. The main issue is always going to be which to use and when in a game of limited command points. God i miss the old days of 7th and my 24 starting CP and the other 12 I’d regain through the match!  

Friday 21 July 2023

Summer holiday lull

 So there has been a little bit of a lull thieve last few weeks. I have been away on the family summer holiday and finding time to write and post has been hard. I have however been working on the codex review and it should be finished and starting to go up over the next week. The articles are written i just need to sort some pictures and proof read, because most of them have been written on the fly and at speed!

In other news, I’ve just realised that my blog has adverts! I have no idea when this happened. I have applies to get ads, mostly to see if i can gain some sort of funding for this hobby of ours, no matter how minor it might be (9p so far!) but every time i applies i was rejected for some reason or another that i could not work out, so i gave up but i was checking something out the other day on a different device and looking at the actual blog rather than the blogger interface and there they were! Mostly rubbish Temu ones, but they were there. I will have to try and figure out if i can get more targeted ads or something, i have no idea if or how to do this though. 

Lastly I have a lot of projects ready to run, so hopefully I’ll be able to share these over the coming months, so there will be lots more to come, the blog is not dead yet!